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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The Belgium embassy in Riyadh hosted a discussion on women and children’s health on Wednesday to coincide with World Health Day.
Ambassador Dominique Mineur was joined by Dr. Nada Alsahan, an assistant professor at the College of Medicine at Alfaisal University and a maternal-fetal medicine consultant at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center in Riyadh.
Dr. Marleen Temmerman, a gynecologist and head of the centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University in Kenya, also took part in the discussion.
The virtual conversation discussed the importance of early detection of diseases in women, women’s rights, gender-based violence, and access to modern healthcare to promote women and children’s health globally.
Alsahan discussed the importance of women’s health for healthy societies as a whole.
“Healthy women make healthy families and hopefully healthy communities and then at the end a healthy nation and a healthy world,” she said.
The consultant outlined the advances Saudi Arabia has made in improving women’s health care and the initiatives they are hoping to continue under Vision 2030.
Since 2004, the Kingdom introduced a premarital screening program for diseases that might affect couples and a national screening program for newborn children.
Saudi Arabia has also taken large steps in maternal health with counseling for couples planning to have children.
“The goals are health education and promotion, risk assessment, and intervention before pregnancy to reduce the chances of poor perinatal outcomes,” Alsahan said.
She added that she hoped the increased awareness surrounding women’s health would lead to more women getting screened for diseases like breast cancer.
Temmerman talked about the link between women’s rights and women’s health, and the work she has done creating gender-based violence recovery centers in Kenya and advancing laws globally for sexual assault victims.
She said that in developing regions of the world “more than 45 million women received inadequate antenatal care or none at all.”
“More than 200 million women want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraception,” she added.
Temmerman highlighted the importance of diplomatic cooperation in improving women’s health.
“Yes you need good research and data, but it’s only when you reach out to other constituencies, other parliaments and governments, and private sectors, and women organizations that your impact will be much higher.”
Ambassador Mineur said the World Health Day was important for promoting a key UN Sustainable Development Goal.
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